COVID-19 Return To Work.
Bawith SHEQ Services, in conjunction with several leading SHEQ practitioners in South Africa have taken the opportunity during the lock-down period to work together and to develop a COVID-19 Return to Work package aimed to assist companies with the legal requirements for returning to work under Level 3. Our package will be revised as the risk levels are updated by Government.
National State of Disaster
COVID-19 has been declared a National State of Disaster under the Disaster Management Act – the result of which has brought into play new Regulations and Directives in addition to OH&S Act:
- Disaster Management Act
- Hazardous Biological Agents Regulations
- Risk Adjusted Strategy Regulations
- Covid-19 OH&S Workplace Measures Directive for Level 3
As we enter into Level 3 of the Risk Adjusted Strategy on Monday 1st June, more industries are able to reopen and more workers will be allowed to go back to work – under strict conditions aimed at restricting and limiting the transmission of the disease. But along with the opening up of the economy comes the increased risk or transmission and infection – it now becomes more important to follow the guidelines as set out by the NICD (National Institute for Communicable Diseases – www.nicd.ac.za)
Clause 4 of the Hazardous Biological Agents Regulations (HBA) requires that all employees that are or may be exposed to the biological agent must be adequately and comprehensively informed and trained. Bawith SHEQ Services is offering COVID-19 Awareness training to all companies which can be delivered onsite or via Zoom (https://www.bawith.com/product/covid-19-awareness-training/)
Clause 21 of the Covid-19 OH&S Workplace Measures Directive for Level 3 is clear about the requirements of screening all employees prior to entering the premises (https://www.bawith.com/product/daily-screening-template/). This is a set of 5 primary questions to which the employee is obliged to answer to the best of his/her knowledge and include whether the person is suffering from:
- a fever
- a dry cough
- a sore throat
- shortness of breath
- muscle or body pains
Although there is currently a lot of hype regarding the use of infra-red thermometers, they are not mandatory and I am of the strong opinion that the cheap thermometers that most people can afford are not very accurate and cannot be calibrated – for this reason, I personally don’t see the benefit of spending money unnecessarily on cheap thermometers and as we come out of a long lock-down, not many smaller businesses are able to afford the higher quality ones.
It is important to note that the screening and other medical records must retained by the employee for a period of 40 years (as per the HBA regulations (clause 9))
In the event that one of your employees is identified as being infected or suspected to be infected, your responsibility as the employer is to ensure the person is isolated and arrangements made for further testing. An incident investigation must be conducted and the risk assessment must be revsed or updated based on the outcome of the investigation. It is important to note that because COVID-19 has been declared a notifiable disease, any infected person must be reported to the Department of Health for tracing purposes and you may want to consider following the COID (W.CL.1) procedures.
For more information on the requirements related to level 3 and how we can help you with the knowledge to be compliant with the new regulations and directives, contact us on:
firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 082 573 1959